Friday, November 23, 2007

Iraqis Taking Charge Of Their Security

Friday, 23 November 2007
— Iraqi citizens are taking back their streets from extremists by taking security into their own hands.

The Iraqi Security Volunteer program, an Iraqi project funded by the government of Iraq, allows volunteers from local communities to protect their own neighborhoods.

The ISVs receive a three-day training program at Coalition Outpost War Eagle where they learn some basic vehicle checks and how to conduct themselves on the streets, as well as weapons training with an AK-47.

“When you have local citizens patrolling their own streets, they have a sincere interest in keeping it safe,” said 1st Lt. John Suh, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.

According to Suh, a native of Harrington Park, N.J., these volunteers are residents of the neighborhoods they have been tasked to provide security to, and that’s precisely the advantage when hiring local residents.

“People are staying out longer at night and the stores are remaining open longer,” he said. “Thanks to this program, people are feeling a sense of security.”

Market in Baghdad Nov 5 2007 Reuters photo.

According to Suh, the program overall has proven to be a success in Adhamiyah District.

“This is a short-term fix,” said Suh. “The ultimate goal is to transition these ISVs into Iraqi Policemen. So, a few months down the road, we’re trying to place them in the Iraqi Police Academy. In the end, this short-time initiative will create sustainable security solutions by transitioning them into IP.”

For Asef Abd Hadi Mosa Al Jabori, an ISV in Shabatkar neighborhood, being in this program gives him the opportunity to serve his community and he enjoys it.

“Become a police officer in the future is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.

According to Al Jabori, though ISVs have been successful providing security, they still need the help of Coalition Forces.

“We need them to stay here a little longer until our skills and knowledge match our present need for security,” he said.

(By Spc. Elvyn Nieves, Multi-National Division – Baghdad)

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